Big Bird from Sesame Street was close to being one of the casualties of the space shuttle Challenger.
According to Caroll Spinney, the long-time puppeteer behind the costume, NASA had sent him a letter about possibly taking Big Bird on a mission with the intent of promoting space activities to kids.
Spinney claims he was ultimately not selected because the 8-foot-2-inch-high costume was deemed too big for the shuttle.
Instead, he was replaced by teacher Christa McAuliffe who was chosen for NASA's Teacher in Space Project to join the flight.
In January 1986, the shuttle broke apart soon after takeoff, killing McAuliffe and the other six astronauts on board.
Spinney writes in an essay that he and the Sesame Street crew cried after they saw the fatal event.
This story and others were told in the context of a recently released documentary about his life called, "I Am Big Bird."
NASA has since confirmed that they had opened a dialogue with Sesame Street about possibly participating in the flight, but it went no further.
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